|Birth: ||Oct. 11, 1601|
|Death: ||May, 1640|
William,1 Spencer, eldest child of Gerard,A Spencer and Alice Whitbred (q.v., Whitbread), bapt. Oct. 11, 1601 at Stotsfold, Bedfordshire, England. He was the eldest of four Spencer brothers that emigrated to New England during the 1630s (William, Thomas, Michael and Gerard).
Any claim that William and his three Spencer brothers arrived on one of the ships known as the "Winthrop Fleet" is not true, as neither of the four brothers arrived at New England prior to 1632. The term "Winthrop Fleet" applies only to those who arrived on one of the ships that were part of Gov. John Winthrop's Mass. Bay Company fleet in 1630, the Arabella being the flagship on which Winthrop himself sailed.
Of the four brothers, William was likely the first to arrive by early 1632 and first settled at New Towne (renamed Cambridge in 1638). His name first appears in the New England records on May 4, 1632 when he and Edward Lockwood were appointed to represent New Towne to the General Court regarding establishing a "publick stocke" of cattle. He was elected a freeman of the Mass. Bay Company Mar. 4, 1632/3 inferring he had joined some town church (probably adjoining Watertown). Rev. Thos. Hooker did not arrive at New England to establish the church at Cambridge until mid-1633. William was town clerk of Cambridge for the years 1632-1635.
William was very involved in both Cambridge town and Mass. Bay Colony affairs during the early 1630s and was one of four founders of the Military Company of Mass., now called The Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company, in which he held the rank of Lieut. However, he is referred to as Lieut. Spencer only twice in the civil or political records of the Mass. Bay and none in Hartford, Conn. records.
Hartford, Conn. was founded in 1637 when Hooker moved his church from Cambridge to the wilderness along the Conn. River. The last date on which William Spencer appears at Cambridge is Apr. 11, 1638 as deputy to the Mass. General Court. This is followed by his first appearance at Hartford Apr. 11, 1639 as a deputy to the Hartford General Court. At Hartford he was also involved in town affairs and at his death was one of Hartford's townsmen, now called Selectmen.
Possibly as early as 1631 but perhaps as late as 1632, William m. Agnes Harris, dau. of Bartholomew Harris and Elizabeth Collamore, bapt. Apr. 6, 1604 at Barnstaple, county Devon, England. When and where they married remains unknown, but there is no known basis for the claim that William returned to England to marry Agnes. In the 1640 replicated map of the Town of Hartford, William's homelot adjoined the north side of his younger brother Sgt. Thomas Spencer's lot.
William Spencer and Agnes Harris had three children, who are outlined in Agnes' separate memorial. He d. testate at Hartford, Conn. betw. May 4 and May 22, 1640 (date of will, date of invt.), Æ 39. It is assumed he was one of the earliest interred at what became the Ancient Burying Ground at Hartford, formerly known as the Center Church Cemetery. He likely had no gravestone placed at the spot of his burial, or if he did have one it long ago decayed and fell away.
The following, using modern spelling, may be of interest to the reader:
the 11th of January 1640(-41).
• It is further ordered that ye burying place is appended to be part of Richard Umstead's Lot & for satisfaction to Richard Umstead for ye said Burying place & ye fencing about it he is to have a parcell of ground Lying at ye north middle gate containing about an acre & half of ground & ye said Richard Umstead is to remove Mr. Alings [Alling's] fence & set it by ye highway against ye said ground... [Hartford Town Votes, I:40]
3 March 1640(-41). An Order Concerning Graves.
• it is ordered that Thomas woodford shall attend the making of Graves for any Corpse Deceased and that no corpse shall be laid less than four foot deep. None that be above four years old shall be laid less than five foot Deep. None that be above ten shall be laid less then six foot Deep. He shall receive for giving notice by ringing the bell, making the grave and keeping of it in comely repair so that it may be known in further time where such graves have been made: for the lesser sort two shillings six pence, for the middle sort three shillings, for the biggest sort three shillings six pence. [ibid., I:48]
Mr. Woodford, where is William Spencer's grave?
Gerard Spencer (1576 - 1646)
Alice Whitbread Spencer (1578 - 1628)
Agnes Harris Edwards (1604 - ____)*
Elizabeth Spencer Joy (1633 - ____)*
Sarah Spencer Case (1636 - 1691)*
Samuel Spencer (1639 - 1716)*
William Spencer (1601 - 1640)
Elizabeth Spencer Tomlins (1602 - ____)*
Thomas Spencer (1607 - 1687)*
Michael Spencer (1611 - 1653)*
Gerard Spencer (1614 - 1685)*
Ancient Burying Ground
Maintained by: Don Blauvelt
Originally Created by: Charlene Backus
Record added: Jun 08, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 27422696